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Sabres at Panthers
Sabres hope a little Florida 'sun' can cure recent woes
Sunrise, FLORIDA (LGS) — The Buffalo Sabres will look to right the ship and escape the uncharted waters they find themselves in Thursday when they take on the Florida Panthers at 7:30 p.m. (MSG-TV/WGR-AM) in Sunrise.

Buffalo (44-19-6) is caught in its longest losing streak of the season, currently at four games, following Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout loss in Pittsburgh.

“We’re a team that relies on speed,” said Daniel Briere, who recorded his 25th multiple-point game of the season in the loss. “Tonight we didn’t move our legs. And when we don’t do that, we obviously become very vulnerable.”

But the game resembled a Sabres team many thought extinct, as they battled back from a two-goal deficit to reach the shootout. Showing a glimpse of the Sabres of October and November, the team was down 4-2 late in the third period before battling back to earn its one point.

Briere and Chris Drury scored goals in the third period after the Penguins had scored two power-play goals to take the lead.

Drury’s goal came with 6.2 seconds left.

“They dominated us in the second period,” coach Lindy Ruff said, “and kinda put us away. But we came back to life late in the third period to get back in the hockey game."

Jason Pominville and Dmitri Kalinin also scored for the Sabres, who hold a two-point lead over New Jersey in the Eastern Conference standings entering Thursday games. The team is also trailing the Detroit Red Wings, who took over the league points-lead by defeating Nashville Wednesday, by five points.

One problem the team has been having in its recent struggles is maintaining an early lead in the game. The team has scored first in three of the four games they’ve lost, yet the opposition came right back and scored.

“We’ve had a problem with (giving up quick goals)” Ruff said. “We’ve scored, then the other team comes back usually within two or three shifts. Those shifts are important because you can seize momentum or you can give it away. We’ve been giving momentum away, and haven’t been able to carry on what we’ve done.”

On the Sabres' injury front, defenseman Jaroslav Spacek is expected back in the lineup during the road trip, but no actual return date is set.

“I think I need a couple more days,” Spacek said March 12 before the game in Pittsburgh.

If he doesn’t return Thursday, he could be ready to play Friday when the team travels to Tampa Bay to complete the Florida portion of its schedule.

Florida (29-28-13) is coming off of a 3-1 loss in Carolina Tuesday night.

Jozef Stumpel scored the team’s only goal, unassisted, after the linesman accidentally kept the puck in the Carolina zone, while 41-year-old backup goaltender Ed Belfour made 31 saves.

Florida’s power play was 0-5.

The Panthers are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.

The Sabres are 2-1 this season against the Panthers, with the home team winning each game. They lost 3-1 on their last trip to Florida Dec. 7.

Fun Fact of the Game:
Buffalo is not the only team with six 20-goal scorers anymore. Carolina became the second team in the league to claim that fame when Scott Walker scored the winning goal Tuesday against the Panthers.

By Timothy Chipp, LGS Columnist
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